The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Managing HS Pain

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) presents as a chronic skin disease marked by painful nodules, abscesses, and sinus tracts in sensitive areas. With an estimated 1% global prevalence, HS profoundly affects quality of life. Pain is a prevalent symptom, demanding effective management strategies. Thankfully, numerous treatments exist to mitigate HS pain and enhance overall outcomes. Discover strategies for managing HS pain and improving daily life. Effective pain management is integral to coping with HS and fostering a better quality of life. 

a woman managing hs pain with red spots on her face.
The ultimate guide to understanding and managing hs pain

Understanding Hidradenitis Suppurativa

HS is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects the hair follicles in the apocrine gland-bearing regions of the body. The exact cause of HS remains unknown, but it’s believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune factors. The disease typically starts after puberty and is more common in women, smokers, and people with a family history of the condition. HS can range from mild to severe, with some cases leading to scarring, skin changes, and reduced mobility.

Symptoms and Diagnosis 

The primary symptom of HS is the formation of painful nodules or boils that can rupture and form sinus tracts. These nodules often recur in the same areas and can become infected, leading to pus formation and foul odour. Other symptoms of HS may include itching, burning, and excessive sweating. Diagnosis of HS is usually based on a physical exam and medical history, and in some cases, a biopsy may be necessary to rule out other conditions.


a woman's thigh with a red mark, experiencing hs pain.
The ultimate guide to understanding and managing hs pain

Treatment Options

The treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa pain depends on the severity of the condition and the location of the nodules. Mild cases of hidradenitis suppurativa may be managed with self-care measures such as keeping the affected areas clean and dry, wearing loose-fitting clothing, and avoiding tight clothing that may irritate the skin. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may also help alleviate mild HS pain.

For moderate to severe cases of hidradenitis suppurativa, medical treatments may be necessary, including antibiotics, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologics. These medications help reduce inflammation, prevent infection, and promote skin healing. In some cases, surgical procedures such as incision and drainage or the removal of affected skin may be necessary to manage severe HS pain. 

Lifestyle Changes and Support 

In addition to medical treatments, several lifestyle changes can help manage HS pain and improve the condition’s overall outcome. These include maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, avoiding tight clothing, and managing stress. Support groups and counselling can also be beneficial for people with hidradenitis suppurativa, as the condition can be emotionally challenging and impact mental health.


a close up of a skin with red spots, indicating the presence of hs pain.
The ultimate guide to understanding and managing hs pain


hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic skin disease that can cause significant pain and discomfort. However, with the right diagnosis and treatment, people with HS can manage their pain and improve their quality of life. Medical treatments such as antibiotics, immunosuppressants, and biologics can help reduce inflammation and promote skin healing. Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking can also improve HS outcomes. It’s essential to work closely with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses the individual’s specific needs and goals.

The mission of the Canadian Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation is to enhance the quality of life and treatment of individuals with HS by promoting awareness and providing education to dermatologists. If you are looking for HS resources in Canada, sign up for our newsletter today!